Researchers may have found a single cause for social blindness in aspies and aut

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Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), a team lead by Mirella Dapretto found that test subjects on the autism spectrum have virtually no activity in the mirror neuron section of their brains, whereas NTs of comparable age and intelligence had abundant activity.

Mirror neurons are the “duplication” neurons in the brain. The neurons activate when an NT performs a goal-oriented task. They also activate in exactly the same way when an NT observes the same action done by someone else.
“Understanding the intentions of others while watching their action is a fundamental building block of social behavior,” said Dr. Marco Iacoboni, a lead investigator in the series of studies. “Our findings show for the first time that intentions behind actions of others can be recognized by the motor system using a mirror mechanism in the brain. The same area of the brain responsible for understanding behavior can predict behavior as well.”

The researchers believe the mirror neuron system allows NTs to automatically and intuitively understand another’s emotions, actions, and intentions merely by observing what that person does. If this is true, then virtually all social problems of the autism spectrum may stem from a broken mirror neuron system.

“Our findings suggest that a dysfunctional mirror neuron system may underlie the social deficits observed in autism,” said Dapretto. “Together with other recent data, our results provide strong support for a mirror-neuron theory of autism. This is exciting because we finally have an account that can explain all core symptoms of this disorder.”

By GroovyDruid

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